140mn and Counting: Mobile Phone Subscribers On The Rise

The growing digital economy is surely attracting new mobile phone service subscribers, as of recent according to end of 2016-17 fiscal report the number of mobile phone users in Pakistan has reached to 140 million.

According to the telecom regulator the total number of mobile phone subscribers reached 139.75 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, close to an all-time high of 139.97 million in FY14. However Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in FY14 had cancelled millions of suspected fake and illegal cellular connections after their users failed to prove their identity via biometric verification.

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Due to the verification drive there was a 18% drop in cellular connections as subscribers dipped to 114.65 million in FY15. The campaign had come in the wake of growing terrorist activities, street crimes and money extortion as mafias used illegally acquired SIMs. In order to get rid of these PTA undertook the biometric verification campaign that cut off millions of suspected network connections.

The cellular industry is however on the rise thanks to a fast growing digital economy and popularity of social networking. Although the number of mobile connection subscribers has been slow, and the fiscal year saw only growth of 5%, meaning an addition of 6.51 million new phone connections. As compared to the preceding fiscal year 2016 that recorded a year-on-year growth of 16% or addition of 18.58 million new connections.

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In terms of data usage, the growth in mobile phone internet connections also slowed down significantly, but the number of broadband connections touched a new high of 42.08 million in FY17. According to PTA, 30% of the cellular phone users are now using internet on the phone as compared to last year, the ratio was 22%.

According to a report by the central bank,

After the introduction of next generation mobile services in the country in 2014, the 3G/4G technologies have been well received by the customers. The growth of 35% in July-March FY17 builds upon the impressive performance experienced in FY16 (when the subscription numbers grew around 118%.”